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Call for Evidence on Tenancy Deposit Protection

Posted on June 28th, 2019 -

Secretary of State James Brokenshire MP has today announced a call for evidence on deposit protection in England.

This call for evidence seeks to understand the barriers tenants face providing a second deposit when moving from one tenancy to the next. It looks at what can be done to speed up the return of deposits to tenants at the end of the tenancy.


SWLA Attend West of England Landlord Panel Meeting

Posted on June 14th, 2019 -

Gillian Kerr, SWLA Office Manager attended the meeting in Bristol on Wednesday 12th June 2019. Items discussed included;

  • Licencing Updates from all West of England Local Authorities
  • Bristol ‘Rent with Confidence’ Memberships Rewards
  • Legislation Updates (Removal of Section 21 and Tenant Fees Act 2019)
  • Prosecutions and other enforcements (MEES/agent compliance etc)
  • Market conditions
  • Future dates for landlord forum and Bristol Landlord Expo

The West of England Landlord Expo (Bristol) date for 2020 is set for 26th March 2020. It’s the Expo’s 20th Anniversary so promises to be a busy and informative day. All landlords are welcome and it’s free to attend, pop it in your diary! SWLA will have a stand at the event.

Landlord Training Courses in Plymouth

Posted on June 14th, 2019 -

½ Day Landlord Training Courses

Monday 7th October 2019

Venue – Charter Room, Plymouth Guildhall, Royal Parade, Plymouth PL1 1HA

If you are accredited this will count towards your CPD hours, but the course is open to all.

Cost for SWLA members – £35 per half day or £65 for both courses.

Cost for non-SWLA members – £40 per half day or £75 for both courses.

First Session – 9:30 – 12:30 – Understanding the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) and Fitness for Human Habitation   

  • How does the system work
  • The Local Authority role  
  • Your duty of care
  • What are the most common risks
  • How to think about risks in your properties  

Some things for you to think about, the potential high penalties for landlords who do not keep their property in repair and safe. This can lead to delays in evictions as well as damage claims from the tenants. On this course we will be looking at what is and is not acceptable condition.

Second Session – 13:30 – 16:30 – Inventory

Inventories – move in and maintaining a good property condition. What are the best ways to record condition, how at the end of the tenancy to access what is tenants damage and how much the landlord can lawfully claim in compensation.

Places secured upon receipt of payment, book your place through the office 01752 510913.

Making Tax Digital; Quarterly Reporting for Landlords with a Turnover of Less Than £85k Delayed Until at Least 2021

Posted on June 7th, 2019 -

Making Tax Digital (MTD) – Mandatory digital record keeping for VAT for businesses over the VAT threshold (with turnover over £85,000) came into force from 1 April 2019. This was an important first step in the modernisation of the tax system to which the government remains committed.

The government have confirmed a light touch approach to penalties in the first year of implementation. Where businesses are doing their best to comply, no filing or record keeping penalties will be issued. The focus will be on supporting businesses to transition and the government will therefore not be mandating MTD for any new taxes or businesses in 2020.

Information above taken from the ‘Spring Statement 2019: Written Ministerial Statement’. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/785618/WMS_final_Commons.pdf

For further information, see the gov.uk website; https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/making-tax-digital/overview-of-making-tax-digital

Reducing Condensation, Damp and Mould

Posted on June 5th, 2019 -

Condensation can lead to damp and mould issues, here is a video with tips on how to reduce it! https://www.plymouthenergycommunity.com/advice/energy-tips

New Section 21 Form

Posted on June 3rd, 2019 -

The Ministry of Housing, Communities, Local Government have issued a new Section 21, form 6a that must be used from the 1st June 2019. We will be updating our stationery to include this shortly, however in the interim please use the form on gov.uk website. Here is the link for the form 6a;

Please also be aware, the Notes on “How to Complete Form 6a” have changed as well. Here is the link for the Notes.

How to rent; guide updated to coincide with Tenant Fees Act 2019

Posted on May 31st, 2019 -

The Ministry of Housing and Local Communities have updated the ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’ guide.

Landlords and Agents must provide tenants with the latest copy of the guide at the beginning of a tenancy. Landlords are not required to supply a further copy of the publication each time a different version is published during the tenancy.

Print the guide straight from the gov.uk website to ensure that you are providing the latest version to your tenant.


In relation to the Housing Act 1988, Section 21; the Form 6a is also expected to be updated.

Tenant Fees Act 2019

Posted on May 31st, 2019 -

The Tenant Fees Act 2019 has arrived (01 June 2019). SWLA landlord stationery and documents have been updated accordingly. You can print documents straight from the SWLA website ‘members area’ to ensure that you are using the most up to date version.

The ban applies to assured shorthold tenancies (except social housing or long leases), tenancies of student accommodation and licences to occupy housing in the private rented sector in England. Most tenancies in the private rented sector are assured shorthold tenancies.

You cannot require a tenant (or anyone acting on their behalf or guaranteeing their rent) to make certain payments in connection with a tenancy. You cannot require them to enter a contract with a third party or make a loan in connection with a tenancy.

From 1 June 2019, if you enter into a tenancy agreement, student let or licence to occupy housing in the private rented sector, you will be prohibited from charging any fees or other payments that are not included in the list of permitted payments.

Where a tenancy agreement was entered into before 1 June 2019, you will still be able to charge fees until 31 May 2020, but only where these are required under an existing tenancy agreement. After 1 June 2020, the term requiring that payment will no longer be binding. Should you, in error, ask a tenant to make such a payment, you should return the payment immediately and must return this within 28 days. If you do not return the payment within 28 days, you will be treated for the purposes of the Act as having required the tenant to make a prohibited payment (a payment that is outlawed under the ban). You do not need to return any amount of tenancy deposit that is over the cap for tenancy agreements that were entered into before the Tenant Fees Act came into force.

From 1 June 2020, the ban on fees will apply to all applicable tenancies. You will not be able to charge any fees after this date unless they are a permitted payment.

Permitted Payments

If the fee you are charging is not on this list, it is a prohibited payment and you should not charge it. A prohibited payment is a payment outlawed under the ban.
The only payments you can charge in connection with a tenancy are:
a) the rent
b) a refundable tenancy deposit capped at no more than five weeks’ rent where the annual rent is less than £50,000, or six weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is £50,000 or above
c) a refundable holding deposit (to reserve a property) capped at no more than one week’s rent
d) payments to change the tenancy when requested by the tenant, capped at £50, or reasonable costs incurred if higher
e) payments associated with early termination of the tenancy, when requested by the tenant
f) payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV licence and council tax; and
g) A default fee for late payment of rent and replacement of a lost key/security device, where required under a tenancy agreement

More information/guidance for landlords on the Tenant Fee Ban can be found on the gov.uk website;


Fair Possession Summit (Removal of Section 21 Notice)

Posted on May 24th, 2019 -

21 May 2019, Smith Square London

SWLA Vice Chair Iain Maitland attended the joint RLA/NLA hosted summit chaired by the crossbench peer The Earl of Lytton.

The summit was to agree a united Draft Blueprint for Reforms to Regulations Governing Repossession. Representatives of landlords amd letting agents met to;

  1. agree a statement setting out background and principles
  2. agree a detailed paper outlining the grounds that should be available to landlords to repossess a property, the time lengths, and procedures for each of them
  3. agree a Draft Statement for presentation to Government for inclusion in the forthcoming consultation paper

When the agreed Draft Statement is finalised, SWLA will promulgate, lobby and encourage members to lobby to have the principles incorporated into any new legislation proposed in the wake of the abolition of the Section 21 Notice (often referred to as the ‘No Fault Eviction’).

Right to Rent Checks

Posted on May 22nd, 2019 -

The Home Office have released Brexit Guidance on Right to Rent.

Until 1 January 2021 EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will continue to be able to prove their right to rent in the UK as they do now, for example by showing their passport or national identity card.

There will be no change to the way EU, EEA and Swiss citizens prove their right to rent until 1 January 2021. This remains the same if the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal. Landlords do not need to check if new EEA and Swiss tenants arrived before or after the UK left the EU, or if they have status under the EU Settlement Scheme or European temporary leave to remain.

Landlords will not need to retrospectively check the status of EU, EEA or Swiss tenants or their family members who entered into a tenancy agreement before 1 January 2021.

Irish citizens will continue to have the right to rent in the UK and prove their right to rent as they do now, for example using their passport.

Landlords should continue to conduct right to rent checks on all prospective tenants to comply with the code of practice on illegal immigrants and private rented accommodation and the code of practice for landlords: avoiding unlawful discrimination.

As is currently the case, in order for a landlord to obtain a statutory excuse from a civil penalty when letting to the non-EEA family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, the prospective tenant will need to show Home Office issued documentation as set out in the legislation and guidance.

New guidance on how to carry out right to rent checks from 1 January 2021 will be issued at a later date.

For more information see the gov.uk guidance; https://www.gov.uk/guidance/right-to-rent-checks-for-eu-eea-and-swiss-citizens-after-brexit

New Section 21 6a Form

Posted on May 15th, 2019 -

A new version of Form 6a which is used to issue notice under Section 21 in England will be released on the 1st June 2019 to comply with the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act.

The changes are as follows;

Amendments have been made to ensure the form accurately reflects the restriction on terminating a tenancy where a prohibited payment has been made by the landlord and not returned to the tenant, or the holding deposit has not been returned/forwarded in accordance with the Tenant Fees Ban regulations.

An amendment has been made to provide more details on HMO licencing in relation to serving a Section 21 notice. No Section 21 notice may be given in relation to an assured shorthold tenancy of part of an unlicensed HMO whilst it remains unlicensed.

More information has been added for tenants regarding homelessness support services. The form provides a link to Government possession guidance and further information on bodies such as Citizens Advice and Shelter.

SWLA will update the ‘members stationery’ area on 1st June 2019 with the new form.

Teignbridge Landlord Open Evening, Thursday 23 May 2019, Newton Abbot

Posted on May 8th, 2019 -

Whether you are a seasoned landlord, or a first time buyer, this event offers free advice on all aspects of letting property. SWLA will have a stand at the event, come along and see us if you are there!


Thursday 23 May 2019, 4.30pm to 8.30pm


Old Forde House, Brunel Road, Newton Abbot, TQ12 4XX – Free parking

For further information and to book your ticket;


Section 21- Government Announces End to Unfair Evictions

Posted on April 16th, 2019 -

At present, the government is proposing a consultation on the abolition of Section 21 repossessions, in the private rented sector.  Please be reassured, we will respond and keep you informed as and when updates are received.

The government will collaborate with and listen to tenants, landlords and others in the private rented sector to develop a new deal for renting.

  • New deal for renters to end unfair evictions – preventing private landlords from evicting tenants at short notice and without good reason
  • Step-change to create open-ended tenancies for all private renters – bringing greater peace of mind to millions of tenants in the private rented sector
  • Landlords to have more effective means of getting their property back when they genuinely need to do so


New Inventory Guide for Landlords

Posted on April 10th, 2019 -


A new guide on how to complete inventories on tenant ‘check in’ and ‘check out’ has been designed to help landlords and agents avoid tenant disputes over fair deposit deductions.

The guide is produced by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) and the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

Accurate inventories are vital for providing proof to support claims to deduct repair and replacement costs from tenant deposits.

From 01 June 2019, the Tenant Fees Act comes into force, from that date, the maximum refundable tenancy deposit that a landlord can request is up to 5 weeks worth of rent where the total annual rent is less that £50,000.00.

For further information see the recently published guidance;


Government Guidance Released for Landlords and Agents

Posted on April 4th, 2019 -

Tenant Fees Act 2019 – comes into effect on 01 June 2019. 


Included in the comprehensive guide;

  • What fees can you ask a tenant to pay?
  • When does the ban apply?
  • What about existing tenancies?


The only payments you can charge in connection with a tenancy are: 

a) the rent

b) a refundable tenancy deposit capped at no more than five weeks’ rent where the annual rent is less than £50,000, or six weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is £50,000 or above

c) a refundable holding deposit (to reserve a property) capped at no more than one week’s rent

d) payments to change the tenancy when requested by the tenant, capped at £50, or reasonable costs incurred if higher

e) payments associated with early termination of the tenancy, when requested by the tenant

f) payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV licence and council tax; and

g) A default fee for late payment of rent and replacement of a lost key/security device, where required under a tenancy agreement

More information can be found on the gov.uk website;


SWLA Attend the Largest Landlord Expo in the South West

Posted on April 3rd, 2019 -

On Tuesday 2nd April 2019, Iain Maitland (Vice Chair), Gillian (Office Manager) and Anna (Senior Administrator) attended the Landlord Expo event in Bristol organised by the 4 West of England Local Authorities. The theme of the event was ‘The Key to Staying Ahead’ and was open for all landlords in the private rented sector. There were seminars throughout the day, 60 exhibitor stands and was well attended by landlords.

The next Expo that SWLA will attend is the Teignbridge Landlord Open evening on Thursday 23rd May from 4.30pm – 8.30pm at Old Forde House in Newton Abbot. All private landlords are welcome to attend.


1st April 2019 – Mandatory Client Money Protection for Agents

Posted on March 29th, 2019 -

From 1st April 2019, letting and property management agents must belong to an approved CMP scheme.

As part of this scheme, they must;
– display a certificate within branch and on website
– produce a copy of the certificate to anyone who reasonably requires it (without charge)
– notify all clients within 14 days if their CMP membership is revoked or if they change to a different CMP scheme
– provide clients with the name and address of the scheme to which they become a member

The agent must also ensure the level of CMP membership provides enough cover to compensate clients for the maximum amount of client money that they hold.

Local Authorities will have powers to impose fines of up to £30,000.00 on agents who do not belong to a scheme beyond this date. They can also impose fines of up to £5,000.00 on agents who fail to display correct scheme membership details on their website and within branch.

Guide for Landlords; Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018

Posted on March 27th, 2019 -

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have published the following guidance and advice for landlords about the minimum standards required to let domestic property;


There is also comprehensive guidance on your responsibilities as a landlord;



Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018; Now in Force in England. 20th March 2019

Posted on March 20th, 2019 -

Introduced to raise the standards of living for tenants.

Landlords have no new obligations as part of this Act, however, landlords must meet existing responsibilities with regards to property standards/safety or risk legal action being taken against them by their tenant.

Any privately rented home must be fit to live in at the start of the tenancy and throughout. This includes common parts of a shared building. The landlord is considered responsible from the point in which a hazard is reported to them by the tenant. However, if the hazard is in the common part of a shared building (eg in a HMO or block of flats), the landlord would be immediately liable. The landlord has a reasonable amount of time to deal with the hazard. If a landlord is aware of a hazard and is not actively attempting to remedy it, the tenant can take their landlord to court.

The rules apply to all new tenancies including renewals from 20th march 2019. Existing tenancies which were periodic before this date will need to comply from 20 March 2020.

There are exceptions. The landlord will not be required to remedy unfitness when:  
– the problem is caused by tenant behaviour
– the problem is caused by events like fires, storms and floods which are completely beyond the landlord’s control (sometimes called ‘acts of God’)
– the problem is caused by the tenants’ own possessions
– the landlord hasn’t been able to get consent e.g. planning permission, permission from freeholders etc. There must be evidence of reasonable efforts made.
– the tenant is not an individual, e.g. local authorities, national parks, housing associations, educational institutions
The Act does not cover people who have ‘licences to occupy’, instead of tenancy agreements. This may include lodgers (people who live with their landlord) some people who live in temporary accommodation, and some, but not all, property guardians.


Who enforces this? The legislation allows for the tenant to bring court action directly without first involving the local authority. A judge will decide whether a property is unfit for human habitation based on evidence. The judge will make their assessment based on repairs, stability, damp, internal arrangement, natural lighting, ventilation, water supply, drainage, facilities for food preparation and hazards (under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System).

It is hoped that this Act will level the playing field for good landlords who maintain homes fit for human habitation by ensuring they are not undercut by landlords who persistently flout their responsibilities.

For further information;



SWLA Attend West of England Landlord Panel Meeting

Posted on March 14th, 2019 -

Gillian Kerr (SWLA Office Manager) attended the meeting on 13th March 2019 hosted by Bristol City Council.

The meeting included a licencing update from all West of England Local Authorities, legislation updates (Homes Fitness for Human Habitation 20/03/2019, Client Money Protection compulsory insurance for letting/managing agents 01/04/2019, Tenant Fees Bill 01/06/2019). Trading Standards at Bristol City Council being the lead authority for the Tenant Fees Bill.

MEES enforcement was discussed. Also the findings of the MHLGC English Private Landlord Survey.

Making Tax Digital; expected to affect the majority of landlords by April 2020 (date to be confirmed).

With the Government overhauling the housing complaints system, a housing redress scheme membership may be on the cards for all landlords.



SWLA Chair Steve Lees Attends Bristol EPC and MEES Workshop

Posted on March 14th, 2019 -

Items discussed included energy efficiency ratings in the private rented sector; the next year will see many private rented properties having to be brought up to at least an E rating.

Since 1 April 2018, new tenancies, renewals or extensions require the property to have a minimum “E” energy rating. From 1 April 2020, all existing tenancies with a valid EPC must comply.

From 01 April 2019, landlords will be expected to make energy improvements costing up to £3,500.00 (including VAT) to bring properties up to the required energy efficiency standard. Prior to this date, improvements would have to have been made only if there was no cost to the landlord. If there were costs, the landlord could register an exemption. (The cost cap includes monies spent since 01 October 2017 on energy efficiency improvements).

Exemptions can still be registered in certain circumstances, including if £3,500.00 is spent and the property still falls below the expected standard.

For further information, please see the government guidance;



RSM UK Consulting presented their research findings on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.


Landlord Accreditation Training Course

Posted on March 11th, 2019 -

Landlord Accreditation Training Course 

Monday 3rd June 2019 – 9:30 – 4:30pm

Venue – Astor Room, Plymouth Guildhall, Royal Parade, Plymouth PL1 1HA

Price – £65 for members of SWLA, £75 for non – members for one day course.

Course covers ASTs, Deposits, Section 21s, Section 8s, HMOs, Gas and Electrical Safety, Inventories and much more.

The course will provide you with all the skills to start, manage and finish a tenancy. 

Places still available. Contact the office on 01752 510913 or via the website to book your place, places secured on receipt of payment.

Over 740 landlords have already completed this course since September 2011.

Course can lead to Accreditation, if required.

We are proud to announce Landlord Accreditation South West (LASW) are founder members of the West of England Rental Standard.

New Septic Tank Legislation

Posted on March 8th, 2019 -

Compliance with the new rules on septic tanks is required by 1st January 2020.

Homeowners will need to upgrade their drainage systems in order to avoid fines from the Environment Agency. The rules prohibit the discharge of waste from septic tanks into watercourses due to the detrimental impact it can have on the environment.

You must use a small sewage treatment plant to treat the sewage if you’re discharging to a surface water such as a river or stream. A small sewage treatment plant (also known as a package treatment plant) uses mechanical parts to treat the liquid so it’s clean enough to go into a river or stream.

Rules originally came into force 01 January 2015 applying to new septic tank systems but from January 2020 they will be rolled out to include all systems – old and new.

For further information;


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